With decades of work as an academic librarian, it’s no surprise that Gregg Silvis launched his career in visual art by making art books and pieces constructed from discarded book pages.
Although we avoid calling this its niche.
The artist, who lives in Newark, Delaware, and currently exhibits work at the Delaplaine Arts Center, shudders at the labels and promptly finds a way out of any box he is inadvertently put into.
Since he began dabbling in visual art around 2014, he has continued to work with stained glass, gold leaf, wooden pegs and brass rods, knitwear, furniture, sculptural pieces, the list goes on.
His current exhibition at Frederick, “Organic Precision,” includes sculptural works in a variety of media. The show runs until June 26, with viewing hours from 9:00 to 17:00 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and from 11:00 to 17:00 on Sundays.
For years his artistic outlet has been channeled through music. He has performed as a French horn and played all over the country and in Mexico. Fast forward to the mid-2010s, when he was working as a librarian – a left-brain career, as he put it – and found himself completely dissatisfied.
“I was depressed, I was seeing a psychologist, I wasn’t sleeping … I would get up and watch TV at 4 am,” he recalled over the phone from his home in Delaware. “I was watching TV one night and this commercial aired for tequila. It was the one where they took a palette knife and are painting this bottle, and I started crying. I thought to myself, man, what the hell is this about? What is happening? You have to make art “.
His wife, a masseuse, put him in contact with a local artist and began taking classes.
“For our first lesson, she was like, ‘OK, draw this.’ She was a philodendron, “she recalled. “I sketched it out and it was pretty good, but… I’ve been there for six hours. I was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me what time it was?’ The lesson was to last only an hour. He said, “You were so into it, I didn’t want to take you out.” I swear to God, it was like being in a trance. I had no idea it had been that long. “
Her first art exhibition in 2017 was just as natural.
“Great Expectations: de / reconstructed” was a solo exhibition in a gallery at the University of Delaware Newark, where he was serving as a librarian at the time, but would retire the following year to focus solely on his visual art. An art professor had suggested that he exhibit the work at the school.
“It looked perfectly natural,” she said. “Like, oh yeah: that’s what you should do.”